What It Means To Be Intersex — And Why It Matters In The 'Gender Debate'

A sex and relationship expert sheds light on chromosomes, sex & gender.

man waving an intersex pride flag nito / yourtango.com 

There's a lot of misinformation out there about gender that dismisses the lives of people who just happen to not fit into the societal gender norms. That needs to be clarified.

While this might seem like a controversial statement, it shouldn't be: There are actually more than two genders.

In fact, there are many different gender identities — male, female, transgender, gender-neutral, non-binary, agender, pangender, genderqueer, two-spirit, third gender, etc.


This is where being intersex comes into play.

What does intersex mean? First, let's make sure we're on the same page when it comes to the definition of gender. 

RELATED: How Many Genders There Are — And Why Talking About The Spectrum Of Identity Matters

Gender defined

Let's talk about your definition of gender. 


Who is male? Is it someone who has a penis? What’s a person who was born with ovaries and a penis?

Some people conclude XY chromosome means male and XX chromosome means female.

Well, then, what about XXY chromosomes or XXXY chromosomes?

Whatever your definition of male or female, it’s simply your interpretation. It's wrong to not accept something simply because you don't fully understand it.

Not all societies force people into the male or female dichotomy — the practice is not universal. 

Australia recognizes a third gender in their passports. In South Asia, they call the third gender "Hijra." 

RELATED: LGBTQIA+ Terminology: The Meaning Of Each Letter


Intersex defined

Intersex is a term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with sexual anatomy or a reproductive system that doesn't fit the typical definition of male or female.

One to two out of a hundred people are born intersex There are more intersex individuals than redheads and their existence isn't denied. 

Close-mindedness not only refuses to acknowledge the existence of over 70 million people in the world but they are shamed and forced into choosing male or female by most of society. 

In an attempt to make their child "normal", some parents even opt for surgery that can create irreversible physical and psychological harm. 


If a person is born with XXY chromosomes or XXXY it doesn't necessarily result in a condition where there's a discrepancy between internal and external genitalia.

There might be problems with sex hormone levels, sperm count, overall sexual development, or an altered number of sex chromosomes.

RELATED: What It Means To Be Genderfluid Or Non-Binary

Sometimes gender is indeterminate

A person could go their entire life not knowing they do not fit into the gender norm. 

The people who deny the existence of a third gender often consider themselves conservative and religious, implying that God has a plan and yet somehow messed up with anyone who doesn't fit neatly into the male or female category.


However, there are several cultures that do celebrate the third gender. Perhaps, they have a perspective that the average person can’t understand.

Whatever the case may be, at the very least, it's time to acknowledge that there are more than two genders.

This is not an opinion, this is based on facts.


People that don’t fit into the gender norm deserve to be acknowledged and accepted the way they are. 

RELATED: What Does It Mean To Be Gender Fluid? Genderfluid Terms & Pronouns Explained

Erika Jordan is an internationally acclaimed love and relationship expert, author, and media personality, and a leader in the field of digital romance and online dating. She shares info about her books, coaching and courses on her website.